Wednesday, December 1, 2021

‘P-Valley’ Showrunner Katori Hall on the Economic Politics of Strip Clubs / VIDEO

The new STARZ drama P-Valley takes you deep into the Mississippi delta for a look inside the complex lives that revolve around “The Pynk,” a down south booty shake club that explores the dynamics of sex work, patriarchy, sexism and the working class. The series was developed from playwright Katori Hall’s stage play.

EURweb’s Jill Munroe caught up with Hall, the series showrunner and the cast to discuss strip club experiences, why this story needed to be brought to the screen and the regional differences between strip clubs.

Hall visited dozens of strip clubs across the country over six years and interviewed 40 women to understand their story. The first question I asked of her, “what’s a nice lady like you know about the strip club.” With a hearty laugh, Hall responded, “I know too much about the strip club.”

I’m from Memphis, so I’m a Southern gal through and through. What’s surprising to people is that going to strip club’s is part of your coming of age. There are so many celebrations that happen at the club. It’s this amazing social hub of activity. You’re colliding with friends, sometimes even family. And I would go into that space, look up on the stage and see the most amazing vision. Women on the stage, flying around like they were super sheroes. Doing these amazing tricks, sometimes by themselves, sometimes in a group and I said I want to do that someday.

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P-Valley Season 1 2020

What made you select Mississippi as the location for the series?

Oftentimes people think of Atlanta when they think of strip club culture, but for me – because I’m from Memphis and still have family in the Mississippi delta – I really wanted to pay homage to that place. I also wanted to show how beautiful that place is, and how broke it is. Mississippi – America in general but Mississippi in particular- is some place that has dealt with the heritage of slavery and its still pervasive. A mutation that we were never freed from. I really wanted to dig into the economic disparities and how people are still struggling down there…The show really goes into the economics of poverty, especially in Mississippi.

What are the differences between the strip clubs regionally? What’s the difference between a down south strip club and northern gentleman’s club like in Hustlers?

Up north, there tends to be a sort of corporate structure imposed on strip clubs. I think the “Hustlers” movie was a great visual articulation of that. How you have these Wall street cats coming in, and the women were able to scam them by getting to the cards and what not. There are more rules. But, I also feel it’s less of a show. It doesn’t feel as much like a theatrical experience, versus down south, you have places like “King of Diamonds,” “Magic City” or “Black Diamonds” in Jackson, Mississippi, these places give you a show.

The series stars Brandee Evans (“The Bobby Brown Story”) as Mercedes, Nicco Annan (“This is Us”) as Uncle Clifford, Shannon Thornton (“Power”) as Miss Mississippi, Elarica Johnson (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) as Autumn Night, Skyler Joy (Ma) as Gidget, J. Alphonse Nicholson (“Chicago P.D.”) as Lil’ Murda, Parker Sawyers (Southside With You) as Andre, Harriett D. Foy (“Elementary”) as Pastor Woodbine, Tyler Lepley (“The Haves and the Have Nots”) as Diamond, and Dan J. Johnson (“Underemployed”) as Corbin.

Another unique feature of the series, it features a slate of all-women directors, including award-winning music video director Karena Evans (Drake: Nice for What, SZA: Garden), who directed the premiere episode, as well as Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Millicent Shelton (“30 Rock”), Tamra Davis (“Single Ladies”), Geeta V. Patel (“Superstore”), Tasha Smith (“Black Lightning”), Sydney Freeland (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Barbara Brown (“Scream Queens”).

“P-Valley” debuts on STARZ Sunday, July 12 at 8PM.



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